Anne Arundel police warn of phone scam threatening family members

April 30, 2013

Anne Arundel County Police are warning citizens to be aware of a phone scam in which the caller claims to be holding a family member at gunpoint and demanding money.

Officials said during the past week, the department has seen several incidents involving telephone harassment and threats.

The calls usually involve a person calling a victim and indicating that a relative - who is not specifically named - has been involved in a car crash; or that they are holding the relative of the victim at gunpoint. The caller then threatens harm the relative if money is not wired through a money transfer company.

In some of the cases, police said, the victims contacted the relative independently and were able to ascertain that they were safe and that the phone call was a scam.

However, police said, there have been cases nationally where victims have wired money.

Chief of Police Larry W. Tolliver said in a statement that these types of scams, "can be a very traumatic experience for victims, as the suspects prey on their vulnerability by pressuring them to provide money or even indicating that loved ones have been harmed."

Earlier this week, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office issued a warning to residents there regarding a similar scam, again noting that the caller claimed to be holding a family member until an amount was paid because of "damages" due to an accident.

Anne Arundel police recommend that if residents get a call of this nature, they remain calm and use another phone if possible to call and check on the family member; call police and report the incident; provide as much information as possible; record the telephone number of the caller if possible; remember that callers demanding money to be wired is a major red flag; and don't give out personal information.

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